The broad and sweeping spread of COVID-19 cut deep into the U.S. material and manufacturing supply chain of medical supplies and equipment—especially personal protective equipment (PPE). Current PPE shortfalls include N95 surgical masks and face shields, as well as ventilators and respirators. These critical shortages put medical professionals at risk and result in a slower effective response to the emerging crisis
The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) national laboratories have made significant investments in advanced manufacturing technologies, including extensive tooling infrastructure, support tools for logistics and supply chain management, and broader design capabilities that enable manufacturing improvements.
n collaboration with researchers from five DOE labs, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory developed user-friendly, downloadable mask frames and reusable respirator designs that address several hurdles in the manufacturing supply chain. Many of the custom-fit designs can be vacuum formed, which is an incredibly rapid manufacturing technique. The research team explored multiple materials that not only can be vacuum formed but are comfortable to wear and easily adjusted to each user to increase the fit of the mask on a person-by-person basis.
The designs would use less N95 filter material than a standard, disposable N95 mask, enabling more masks to be made from the same volume of critically low N95 material available. In addition, PNNL’s mask frames can be manufactured through 3D printing or injection molding and are intended to increase the efficacy of these coverings—minimizing gaps between the mask and face. The technique improves how well these improvised face coverings protect against the spread of airborne droplets carrying the virus. Another benefit is that they are reusable.
Custom-Fit: Downloadable PPE Designs for Print On-Demand Use
The following designs have been made available at no cost and can be downloaded below for printing and personal use. Frames for cloth masks are customizable to reduce air gaps that decrease effectiveness. For instructions, view the "Read Me" file. In summary, open .pdf files with Adobe instead of the default web browser. Any CAD software program will open the .STEP files. However, you will need Solidworks to open any .SLDPRT file. To download the .STEP and .SLDPRT files, right click on the link and save the file to your desktop. If prompted, click the button to "keep" the files. Clicking directly onto the link will lead to a 404 error. For general printing instructions, view the 3D Viewing "Read Me" file.
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Research was supported by the DOE Office of Science through the National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory, a consortium of DOE national laboratories focused on response to COVID-19, with funding provided by the Coronavirus CARES Act.
This material was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor the United States Department of Energy, nor the Contractor, nor any or their employees, nor any jurisdiction or organization that has cooperated in the development of these materials, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness or any information, apparatus, product, software, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights.